Not too long ago I planned my annual holiday party- albeit a tad impromptu as I gave my guests less than a week and a half notice- but a good time we definitely had. I've always loved entertaining, tidying up the place, baking something delicious, and watching as the first guest rolls through to the last one's departure. This process makes this special time of year that much more rewarding, sprucing the place up and getting to spend it imbibing over lively conversation and amongst good friends.
The imbibing part came easy, as it usually does. I generally pour a white, a red, have a beer on hand (mostly for the boys), and I love having a signature cocktail to complete the beverage menu. This year I was lucky enough to have Cupcake Vineyards wine on hand for my guests. Cupcake and I go far back, I've drank it for years and each time a new varietal comes out I'm even more pleased than the last- Black Forest is my current fave! I wanted to step up my cocktail game so I created a Winter sangria with a few bottles of Cupcake. It came out even better than I expected with an infused cinnamon and cranberry simple syrup, a few splashes of orange liquor, seasonal winter fruit, and artisanal ice cubes- I proudly made- peppered with mint and pomegranate seeds to round out this holiday beverage.
No party is complete without food so I asked my guests to bring their favorite appetizer. While I could have been more specific with what to bring, the plethora of chips and guac, chips and cheese, and chips and french onion dip were actually perfect for the atmosphere and the chill vibe of the event. I may or may not have five unopened bags of tortilla chips in my pantry from this evening still. ;) I decided to add to the treats and did a little baking the evening prior. As you know in this post I have a thing for donuts, so I baked a batch of Cinnamon Pumpkin ones to share. They filled the apartment with a just-baked homemade aroma. Exactly what you want your guests to come "home" to.
An activity is always a good idea so I set up a White Elephant gift exchange- the one where you can steal presents depending on the number you draw out of a hat. We had bottles of sake, tea kettles, and truffle oil up for grabs. It took a little while for my guests to feel comfortable stealing, but once it happening, it couldn't be stopped. Everyone left a little fuller, a little happier and with a tangible memento from the evening.
The little touches around the apartment really upped the holiday factor — the dangling lights in the hallway, the decorative ombré tinsel tree, and the gorgeous holiday florals from local SF shop Mission de Flores. After a few glasses of my winter sangria I kicked my heels of and took in the moment, surrounded by friends, family and loved ones- just the way I like my holidays.